Sunday 19 November 2017

Kenny under fire but plan coming 'shortly'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THE Government has pledged to spell out its plan for small local hospitals in the wake of the backlash over the Roscommon General Hospital A&E closure.

It came after angry scenes in the Dail yesterday where Taoiseach Enda Kenny refused to apologise for breaking his election promise to keep the A&E department open.

But the Government is now moving to address the worries about the future of nine other local hospitals where the HSE is planning changes due to "significant risk issues".

A Government spokesman confirmed last night that it would be providing details of its comprehensive plan for the future of local hospital services "shortly".

In the Dail yesterday, Mr Kenny refused to apologise to the people of Roscommon for breaking his election pledge to retain services at the hospital. After being told by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin he had been "caught out" when a recording of his speech emerged, Mr Kenny maintained he had just been stating party policy on Roscommon General Hospital, rather than making a "personal commitment".

"The issue of a personal commitment is something above and beyond what party policy might be," he said.

But his explanation attracted scorn from Mr Martin, who had been fobbed off when he asked Mr Kenny about the election pledges in the Dail last week.

"The Taoiseach has refused to correct the record. Who are you trying to cod, Taoiseach?" Mr Martin asked.

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins accused Mr Kenny of covering up a "cynical betrayal" of the people of Roscommon. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said it was up to the Government to put extra resources into the hospital so that it could operate safely.

But Mr Kenny said he was acting in the interests of patient safety -- because the independent health regulator, HIQA, had declared Roscommon's A&E to be "unsafe".

Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Charlie Flanagan admitted there was "concern" in the party about local hospitals.

Irish Independent

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